Sunday, September 10, 2006


Energy Hunger-- is coalbed methane worth destroying the land?

(This may seem a little distant from Michigan, but as our own natural gas supply has dwindled quickly, and essentially all of us heat our homes with natural gas, our energy hunger has environmental consequences that push further and further out.  The more places we allow to be destroyed to serve our energy needs, the less likely we will be able to resist the destruction of our own place in turn.)

September 10, 2006

In the West, a Water Fight Over Quality, Not Quantity

MILES CITY, Mont. — It is a strange fight, Montana ranchers say. Raising cattle here in the parched American outback of eastern Montana and Wyoming has always been a battle to find enough water.

Now there is more than enough water, but the wrong kind, they say, and they are fighting to keep it out of the river. . . .

But the search for a type of natural gas called coal bed methane has come to this part of the world in a big way. The gas is found in subterranean coal, and companies are pumping water out of the coal and stripping the gas mixed with it. Once the gas is out, the huge volumes of water become waste in a region that gets less than 12 inches of rain a year. . . .

“It makes the soil impervious,” said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who is a soil scientist. “It changes it from a living, breathing thing into concrete.” . . .

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